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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Nadeem F. Paracha On indian and Pakistani Media

It was a startling experience following the antics of the Indian electronic media in the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

As one Indian news channel after the other babbled across the most thrilling and sensational expressions of paranoid, anti-Pakistan clichés, I switched back to watching our own channels when a sudden realisation struck me: The Indian channels were a perfect mirror image of everything the Pakistani electronic media has been criticised for recently.

The truth is that there seems to be nothing even remotely resembling sanity in the ways and modes of both the Pakistani and Indian electronic media. Both are a product of the amoral political-economic system that thrived around the world in the last 10 years or so. It is a system glorifying a manner of consumerism that unabashedly puts everything up for sale — from chocolate bars to political and social ideologies. In the context of the TV channels, the media truly became a stage with various and distinct actors, each playing a designated role that is most saleable, but at the same time terribly hackneyed and stale.

The style of the electronic media in both the countries is almost similar: Irresponsibly loud, increasingly conspiratorial, gaudy, and highly rhetorical. And even though the differences are few, they are stark. For example, in the face of a terrorist attack, the Pakistani electronic media will at once take a staunch anti-government line, spiced up with populist anti-US taunts and assorted jabbering that is at best a chaotic crisscross between aggressive Islamist posturing and retro-socialist sloganeering, all done in well-lit TV studios and over beeping telephone lines.

In India, the electronic media in the event of a deadly terrorist act does the opposite. It gets right behind the government and the state and lavishly expounds upon and expands, like an over-the-top Bollywood script, whatever excuses and explanations the government has to provide. Pakistan gets the ceremonial beating. It is black to India’s white, as simple as that.

In both cases, however, the now widespread electronic media in India and Pakistan have ended up playing a rather disastrous role.


Blogger Unknown said...

Hmmmm....all the Indian new channels I saw (mostly NDTV) *immediately* criticized the government and its lack of preparedness and response. Even people in Mumbai had a virulent reaction against the government. In fact this was much discussed in the media and among regular Indians.

I think it is naive to imagine that elements from Pakistan are *not* involved in the attack. No one is accusing ordinary Pakistanis or really even the government but not to see the ISI stamp on this is just to be deliberately blind.

People are not sheep. Yes, we tend to blame Pakistan for a lot but but then, in instances such as this, there is some truth to it as well.

I would believe that sane people in Pakistan would be equally enraged with the ISI. Being anti-government in Pakistan doesn't take much, because most elected governments in the past have been shaky, and military governments are, by their nature un-democratic. And the ISI, an acknowledged rogue agency, outside the control of the government, who has even attacked Pakistan from the inside...why aren't more people in Pakistan angry about that? *That* is the entity that Pakistanis should be debating in their media, not governments that have failed to regulate the ISI, apart from their other failings.

Despite the hysteria in the Indian media, there are indisputable facts that the world community also acknowledges, i.e., in this case the complicity of Pakistan-based individuals and/or organizations.

Just because India has a ton of problems and sections of disenfranchised, embittered minorities does not also mean that external terrorists are also not targeting it. To ignore this or believe that not only India but the rest of the world is creating a conspiracy while elements in Pakistan are actually blameless just makes me shake my head in disbelief.

Sorry for the long reply, t, but I really had to say it. Hope all is well with you :-)

December 13, 2008 11:03 AM  
Blogger temporal said...

thanks j:

there is a great deal of jingoism on both sides

and lot less sober reflection

only yesterday one guest on a pakistani channel was all but screaming about giving "them" a fitting reply

and on an indian channel they were replaying the parliament attack of 2001 with none too subtle comments


burkha has been one of the few more responsible media host


if you read some of the bloggers here you would see they ARE critical of ayaz amir, ayesha khan, irfan hussain, the old curmudgeon cowasjee and plenty more...


i smile (sadly) when i see old warhorses in the media thump their chest and speak out in overtly nationalistic tones...big time denial!


those "experts" who are in denial are also on the other side too...


i also smile (sadly) when i listen to the hype from indian media about "teaching" pakistan a lesson and hoping it fails

if pakistan disintegrates the country that shares thousand mile ling border on the east will suffer the repercussions...

it is in (saner) indian interest to see that pakistan does not disintegrate and that the central government exercises its powers diligently and fairly all over the interior....that would ensure no cross border mayhems...not to mention a big market of 170 million…

khair, nice to see you here, email me…:)

December 13, 2008 1:17 PM  

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